What makes Trey Lance so intriguing?
Good morning New York Giants fans, happy Saturday, and happy bye week!
Today we’re going to dip our toes into the quarterback position in the 2020 NFL Draft. As things stand now only one top quarterback prospect has declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, and that is Trey Lance of North Dakota State. Lance is the kind of quarterback of which traditionalists have always been wary. He is an FCS product who only has one full season as a starter in an offense which draws heavily on Spread and Air Raid concepts and he declared for the NFL Draft after just one game as a red-shirt sophomore.
Bill Parcells wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole.
But the NFL is a changing place with coaches far more willing to learn from college football — both because of how effective their schemes can be and the economics of the modern NFL. We have seen quarterbacks drafted highly in recent years who never would have gotten a chance 10 or 20 years ago.
So Lance is going to be one of the most highly-touted quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. And in a treat for the bye week, were joined in a bye week special by QB expert Mark Schofield.
Prospect: Trey Lance
Games Watched: Vs. South Dakota State (2019), vs. North Dakota (2019), vs. Central Arkansas (2020)
Red Flags: none
Height: 6040 (6-foot-4)
Weight: 225 pounds
Games Played (starts): 16
Passes: 256 attempts, 171 completions (66.8 percent)
Yards (YPC): 2,491 yards
Yards: 870 (6.8 per carry)
Best: Size, athleticism, arm talent, ball security
Worst: Pro-style mental concepts
Projection: An immediate starting quarterback in a spread-influenced scheme, a developmental quarterback in a Pro-Style scheme.
North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance is a big and athletic quarterback prospect with intriguing arm talent. Lance has experience playing under center and executing several pro-style concepts, such as turning his back to the defense in play-action or throwing deep out-routes. Lance shows effortless arm strength, able to drive the ball with touch and accuracy to all areas of the field. He is also able to throw accurately while running, throw while off-platform, or when unable to set his feet. Lance is generally careful to align his hips with his targets downfield whenever able to help with accuracy down the field. Lance is very careful with the football and threw just one interception in college. He shows good ball placement, both limiting opportunities for defenders to make a play on the ball and setting receivers up to pick up yards after the catch.
Lance generally keeps his eyes downfield on passing plays and shows the ability to flow within the pocket to avoid pressure. While he generally treats running as a last resort on passing plays, he commits fully when running the ball. Lance is a powerful runner who looks to break tackles, showing good straight line speed and good vision in the open field.
Lance is raw in the mental aspect of the game. While North Dakota did incorporate some Pro Style concepts and play under center, its passing concepts were generally based on Spread and Air Raid systems.
He was able to execute that college offense which only asked him to make half-field or 1 to 2 read progressions. Lance also wasn’t asked to make calls or adjustments in the pre-snap phase of the game. He can lock onto his first read and has a tendency to lead defenders to his target. Lance also has an unconventional throwing motion. He has a looping wind-up to his his passes, with his hand dropping low before coming up to throw. This could put the ball in jeopardy when facing longer, more athletic pass rushers who attack the ball as well as the quarterback. The second half of his throwing motion is a compact three-quarters release which gets the ball out quickly but also results in a low, flat trajectory.
Lance is raw by NFL standards, having declared as a red-shirt sophomore with just 17 starts to his credit and will need to be accommodated by an offensive coordinator to be a contributor early in his career.
Lance will need time to develop into a quarterback who can quickly and accurately diagnose defensive schemes and coverages. He has some experience in some “Pro-Style” concepts, but he will need development to start in an offense in a “classic” NFL offense. From that perspective Lance is a boom or bust project.
That being said, his athletic traits are evident on tape and he can be an immediate and exciting starter for a team that is willing to incorporate elements of the college game into their offense. While Lance could use time with a quarterback coach to refine the wind-up in his throwing motion, he has a quick, compact release and he is very careful with the football. He executes half-field reads well and he has the athleticism to make read-option or designed quarterback runs threats. Lance also has the arm talent to threaten all areas of the field and make throws on the run, as well as high difficulty throws such as deep out-routes, placing the ball where his receiver can make the play without leading him out of bounds.
While Lance will need some development to reach his full potential as a pro, NFL offensive coordinators are increasingly willing to use the quarterback as a full-fledged weapon in their offense — not just a distributor of the football — and Lance has the potential to be that from day one.
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